Spinach Dal

BM# 98: Week 4, Day 3
Theme : Cooking for Two

For Day 3 of Cooking for two theme, I am here with another simple recipe and a simple meal. Growing up, we never used to sit together at the dining table and eat a meal together. The dishes are left on the table and whenever you are hungry, you can go and serve yourself. Amma follows her body clock when it comes to hunger and appa follows the actual clock. I always wonder what would happen if we hide all the clocks…how will appa eat then?!

After my brother left home for work, he would visit us every month. It was during these visits that we started eating together as a family. He would insist on eating together and would wait until everyone is gathered at the table. Eating together, as we found out, was a wonderful experience and one which I sorely miss now.

In a typical Indian house, the woman eats last. For most part, this is because you would have cooked the exact number of servings and its a good idea to wait until everyone else has done eating. That way you know that the family has had enough food and you can finish off whatever is left. In most cases, there wont be enough leftover and the mother makes the sacrifice of eating rice without any curry on the side. Its something I have never understood. I always prefer making an extra serving so that everyone can sit together and enjoy a meal without worrying whether it will be sufficient for all or not. But that’s just me.

Anyway, here is a recipe I made for lunch today, cooked exactly for two people. My son is having his lunch at school and its only me and my husband for lunch. I decided to make it extra special by making a thogayal (a kind of chutney) and omelette too in addition to the ladies finger fry. My husband prefers rice but I had this meal with quinoa. Read on for the recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup toor dal
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 green chillies
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • a good pinch of hing
  • 1/2 medium tomato
  • 1 cup chopped spinach/palak
  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds

Method:

  1. Wash toor dal couple of times till the water runs clear. Add this to a pressure cooker along with turmeric powder, hing and enough water so that there is about 1/2″ water on top of the submerged dal. Add roughly chopped onions, garlic and green chillies. Pressure cook for 6-8 whistles or until the dal is completely cooked and mushy. Let the pressure release naturally from the cooker. Mash the dal with a ladle so that its smooth.
  2. Heat oil in a pan. Add mustard seeds. Once it crackles, add chopped tomatoes and cook until its soft and mushy. Add the chopped spinach and salt as needed.
  3. Once the spinach is cooked, add the dal mix and half cup of water. Add 1/2 teaspoon of chilli powder, if you prefer more heat. Let it come to a boil. Taste test and adjust the seasonings. Simmer the dal for about 10 minutes and take off the heat.
  4. I served it with quinoa. I prepared an omelette, ladies finger fry and ridge gourd chutney to serve along with the dal.

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Instant Pot Rajma Pulao

2rajma_pulao

People use weekends to catch up with stuff they are lagging behind. For me its just the opposite. I always let things go on weekends and struggle on week days to catch up with everything. My blogging front always takes a set back during the weekends.

Now ask me what I do on weekends to keep me super busy. Am I busy slaving in the kitchen and dishing out delicious curries and naans to keep my man happy? Definitely Not. In fact we eat outside, so there may not be even minimal cooking!

Am I dusting the house from top to bottom to make it squeaky clean? Goodness, No. I don’t do that on even on weekdays!!

Is my house flowing with guests for parties? No again.

Still the weekends – I don’t even know how, gets over before I know it. We might go out for a bit. But for the most part, its a laid back lifestyle, trying to catch up with friends and family whenever we can. Cooking, if at all there is any, is about making simple meals like this Pulao. Recipes where you add everything to the Instant Pot and let it do all the work. A neighbor of mine gave me another recipe for the basic pulao masala, I will post that also soon.

So after reading about my busy-doing-nothing weekend, lets move on to the recipe. Read on for the pictorial.

3rajma_pulao

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon oil or ghee
  • 3-4 cloves
  • 1 big onion, sliced into thin pieces
  • 1 big tomato, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon chilli powder (or per taste)
  • 2 teaspoons coriander powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • salt as needed
  • 1 cup of cooked rajma
  • 1 teaspoon kasoori methi
  • 1 cup of basmati rice

Method:

Soak rajma overnight and cook until its done, about 15 minutes in Manual mode if you are using Instant Pot.

Wash and soak one cup of basmati and set aside. Set the Instant Pot in saute mode. Heat the oil or ghee. Add the cloves (and if you prefer a small cinnamon stick and a bay leaf). Add the sliced onions and saute till pink.  Now time to add the chopped tomatoes and cook for a minute or two.

Add the masala powders – coriander powder, chili powder, turmeric powder, garam masala and salt. Mix it in and cook for a couple more minutes. Now add the cooked rajma.

Follow it up with kasoori methi. Mix it all in. Drain the soaked basmati and add to the pot along with 2 cups of water. Taste test the water and adjust the seasonings and salt if needed.

Switch the mode to Manual. Set timer for three minutes. Let the pressure release naturally. Wait for the rice to cool down a bit before fluffing with a fork. Serve with yogurt or raita.

4rajma_pulao

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Pasta Salad

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My son stands against anything with pasta and rice. He does eat both, but with such a long face that it almost makes me guilty. Almost… But I don’t give up on these two foods and keep bringing them to the table irrespective of the nasty looks, sighs and nays.

The kid does like salads, so I have started adding a bit of pasta to his salad. He seems to be okay with that. So now, once in a while, I pack a cold pasta salad for his lunch. I prepare it the night before and refrigerate so that the flavors can mingle.

A good thing about salad is that you don’t need to have an exact recipe. Whatever is available in the fridge paired with a bit of  dressing makes an excellent one. My go-to salad dressing is a mix of mayonnaise and honey mustard, but I am slowly including more of the classic olive oil and lemon juice now a days.

For a salad, I like the combination of vegetables with beans and fruits. The bit of sweetness that the fruit imparts gives a lovely flavor and the beans fill you up. Cheese is more for my son’s taste buds. For this particular dish, I had some ready made taco seasoning to be used up. So that went into the dressing with olive oil and lemon juice. This video from Tasty is what I followed for the dressing. I had to skip the jalapenos and garlic since it was for my son’s lunch box. Taco seasoning is a mix of spices and can be made at home as well. Here is a recipe if you want to make it at home.

3tacco_pasta_salad

Serves 2

Recipe adapted from: Tasty – Pasta Salad 4 ways

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cooked pasta
  • 1/2 cup cooked red kidney beans
  • 2 slices of cheese torn into small pieces or 1/3 cup shredded cheese
  • 1/2 cup diced mangoes
  • 3 tablespoons sliced olives
  • 1 big tomato, diced
  • handful of coriander leaves, chopped
  • salt as needed

Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon ready made taco seasoning
  • 1 clove garlic, minced, optional
  • 1 tablespoon jalapenos, optional

Method:

  1. Combine the dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.
  2. Cook roughly about one cup pasta in boiling water with salt to get two cups of cooked pasta. Drain and let it cool completely.
  3. Combine the salad ingredients to the pasta. Slowly add the dressing, mixing it in. You don’t have to use all the dressing, you can stop when you feel that the taste is fine.
  4. Do a taste test before adding salt, since pasta was cooked in salted water and taco seasoning also has salt.

5tacco_pasta_salad

Mushroom risotto

1mushroom_risotto

Valli gives us ample preparation time and even reminders to get us started on the month long mega marathons. So for September, I knew that the theme was protein rich foods very well ahead. But as usual, I never got around doing any preparation. What I didn’t realize was that With a two month long India trip in between, there wouldn’t be enough time once I come back.

Still I decided to participate for this month. My main confidence came from the fact that our daily food involves a decent serving of protein. So catching up won’t be very difficult. Also I already had about ten recipes in my drafts folder (magic folder) to get me started.

This is one of the recipes from the draft. I had made this risotto with mushrooms and black beans a while back. I love black beans and go around adding a handful or a cup of it to a lot of recipes. The combination of cheese, broccoli and beans makes the protein factor look good. And to think that I wasn’t planning on a protein high meal when I was preparing this recipe :-)…

Risotto is made using Arborio rice but  the Indian idli rice is a good substitution and that’s what I used. Read on for the recipe.

3mushroom_risotto

Recipe adapted from: Sweet and Savory

Serves : 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice*
  • 1 cup cooked black beans
  • 200 gms mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup cheese
  • salt and pepper

* I used idli rice instead

Method:

 

Heat oil or butter in your Instant Pot (Saute Mode) or a thick bottomed pan. Add the chopped onions and saute till pink. Add the sliced mushrooms and broccoli florets. Saute for a few seconds.

 

Add the rice, saute it so that it is coated in the oil. Add the cooked black beans and 4 cups of broth. Season with salt and pepper.

 

Change the mode from Saute to either rice or Manual. Cook for about 10 minutes. Release the pressure and stir in the cheese. Mix well and serve hot. If you wish, you can    sprinkle a handful of sautéed mushrooms on top before serving.

2mushroom_risotto

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